Interlocutory Appeal from the District Court Montrose County
District Court Case No. 18CR178 Honorable Mary E. Deganhart,
Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: Dan Hotsenpiller, District
Attorney, Seventh Judicial District Robert Davis, Deputy
District Attorney Montrose, Colorado
Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee: Megan A. Ring, Public
Defender Kori Keil Zapletal, Deputy Public Defender Montrose,
Police officers entered Jeremiah Tomaske's property
without a warrant and chased him into his house; Tomaske
responded by resisting and allegedly assaulting a police
officer. We must determine whether the evidence regarding
Tomaske's actions was properly suppressed. The trial
court found that the police officers' initial entry onto
the Tomaske property was a Fourth Amendment violation. The
court further found that Tomaske's alleged assault
"occurred only as a result of the illegal action of law
enforcement entering the curtilage and then the residence in
violation of the Fourth Amendment." As a result, the
court suppressed all evidence of the alleged assault.
Because Tomaske's decision to resist was an independent
act, we conclude that the evidence of Tomaske's alleged
criminal acts was sufficiently attenuated from the police
misconduct. Therefore, the evidence of what transpired inside
the house should not be suppressed. Accordingly, we reverse
the trial court's suppression order.
Facts and Procedural History
Mary Tomaske called the Montrose Police to report that her
car had been stolen by her son, Josh Tomaske, and that he was
potentially still on the property. While three officers were
en route to the Tomaske residence, they received a report
that the car had been returned. As the officers arrived at
the Tomaske residence, they confirmed that the car was parked
in the driveway but decided to investigate further. In doing
so, they entered the backyard and observed a man-Jeremiah
Tomaske-coming out of the detached garage and heading toward
the house. The officers asked Jeremiah if he was Josh, the
Tomaske who had reportedly taken the car. Tomaske responded
that he was not, and that Josh was his brother. Tomaske then
told the officers that they had no right to be there, but the
officers commanded Tomaske to come talk with them. Tomaske
refused and continued to move toward the house. The officers
pursued Tomaske through the backyard, and one officer
followed him into the house and tackled him to the ground.
Tomaske resisted and, in the course of the struggle,
dislodged the officer's baton from his duty belt. At this
point, the other officers assisted in detaining Tomaske.
Ultimately, Tomaske was taken into custody.
Tomaske was charged with second-degree assault on a peace
officer, disarming a peace officer, attempted disarming of a
peace officer, and obstructing a peace officer. Tomaske moved
to suppress any statements from the officers about what
transpired inside the house, arguing that the evidence
stemmed from a warrantless entry and unlawful arrest.
The trial court suppressed the evidence. As an initial
matter, the trial court determined that the officers'
entry into the backyard of the Tomaske home violated the
Fourth Amendment. The court then reasoned that Tomaske's
actions inside the house were "a continuation of the
illegal conduct of the officers." Therefore, the court
determined that Tomaske's conduct "was not
sufficiently attenuated as to dissipate the taint of the
police misconduct," and it suppressed the officers'
testimony about what transpired inside the house.
In response, the People filed this interlocutory appeal as
authorized by section 16-12-102(2), C.R.S. (2018), and C.A.R.
Standard of Review
A lower court's ruling on a suppression motion presents a
mixed question of fact and law. Casillas v. People,
2018 CO 78M, ¶ 18, 427 P.3d 804, 809. We defer to a
trial court's findings of fact if they are supported by
sufficient evidence in the record. Id. We review a
lower court's conclusions of law de novo. Id.